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The Fug Girls: How to Hire a Celebrity Fashion Designer


Savannah and Sienna Miller.Photo: Patrick McMullan

Desperate to join the ranks of retailers who’ve used celebrities for brand cachet, cheapie clothier Steve + Barry’s has decided to follow up its first attempt — Sarah Jessica Parker’s fashion line Bitten — by partnering with actress Amanda Bynes. Who? Exactly. Either Steve + Barry only watch Nickelodeon, or the founders just haven’t had a proper lesson in picking the proper celebrity to pimp their wares. Thank God we’re here with some sage advice (after the jump). You’re welcome, boys.

Pick Someone Who’s Actually Into Fashion
True, budding designers Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen — whose line The Row is being sold at Barneys — have a history of trotting around town looking like they’ve dragged themselves out of a dumpster. But their passion for fashion is well documented by their appearances at couture shows and Fashion Week events. Showing up is half the battle, Amanda; simply saying you want to move to New York because it’s chic (and while your roots are showing) does not make you qualified to design good pants.

Don’t Get Duped By Fictional Fashion Sense
Just because Patricia Field can stuff Carrie Bradshaw in something avant-garde doesn’t mean Sarah Jessica Parker knows what she’s talking about in real life. There’s a big difference between being able to pick out a pretty dress (or having a pink-haired crone do it for you), and being able to design one. No wonder bloggers are savaging SJP’s line before it’s even in stores. We can’t imagine how Bynes will fare given that her biggest onscreen fashion moment consisted of two “hilarious” montages at the same flea market in What a Girl Wants. Besides, Colin Firth is in that movie, so was anyone actually watching Amanda?

Avoid People Who Have Nothing Better to Do
The Bynes deal smacks of someone designing on a whim, which didn’t work out so well for Nicky Hilton. The sulky heiress was best known for spending most of her time looking bored at parties until deciding to create her Chick line a few seasons ago. Considering Nicky’s total lack of charisma, her addiction to wearing the same shapeless black shirt several weeks in a row, and the fact that she had never given us any prior reason to believe she could design her way out of a paper bag, it’s no surprise Chick flopped. Bynes is generally photographed lounging around Los Angeles in nondescript jeans and tees. And that’s fine … if you haven’t been hired to shill a line based on your awesome fashion sense.

Find a Brainy Business Partner
What does Bynes bring to the deal, aside from maybe Colin Firth’s phone number? The Olsens have been mini-moguls practically since they were in utero. Fellow wholesome starlet Hilary Duff started slow with lip gloss and cheap accessories before graduating to a clothes line for kids. And at the other end of the age spectrum, Madonna brought a lifetime of savvy. Her H&M collection was more benign than she is, but that’s why it worked: Madge knew H&M shoppers needed a trench coat more than, say, a cone bra.

When All Else Fails, At Least Pick Someone People Have Heard Of
Sienna Miller’s Twenty8Twelve line, designed with her sister, is mostly a bunch of drab, ruffled stuff Sienna herself would likely wear with leggings on the red carpet. Would we buy it? Two words: No. But given the enormous attention her controversial personal style has received in the last few years, it’s logical that she tried. Conversely, we dare you to name even one thing that Bynes wore out of the house last year. We’ll just pop out for the weekend while you’re thinking. —The Fug Girls

The Fug Girls: How to Hire a Celebrity Fashion Designer